Birth Injuries: Better Understand Microcephaly

The following is an editorial from our founder: Ken Stern

Far too often, people think of a birth injury as an event that involves bruises, broken bones, blood, a doctor dropping a baby, etc. Sadly, these are more anecdote than truth, and the most problematic birth injuries are not as physically obvious or visible. Birth injuries can involve a child being diagnosed with a variety of conditions, including Cerebral Palsy, as well as other conditions such as hydrocephalus. Microcephaly is a different type of birth injury that is very serious, often misunderstood and requires greater awareness from the public.

First, what is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a condition characterized by the head size of the baby is smaller than expected in the months following birth, indicating that the brain may have been damaged from during labor and deliver and is not developing at a normal growth rate. From a visual standpoint, microcephaly, in appearance, is the opposite of hydrocephalus. This does not mean that it is any less significant or severe; both conditions represent extremely important problems with neural development that require immediate medical assistance.

A decreased head size, potentially paired with missed milestones, may indicate microcephaly. This microcephaly diagnosis indicates that one potential cause is if the baby suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a condition where the unborn baby’s brain is not receiving enough oxygen or blood. Alternatively, a child diagnosed with reduced head size, concerning development and microcephaly may have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury during labor due to the use of forceps or vacuum extractors. A third option is that the child has Cerebral Palsy attributed to brain development problems associated with microcephaly.

The damage caused by microcephaly can vary, just like many other birth injuries. In terms of symptoms or conditions to be faced, children with microcephaly may experience items including, but not limited to:

  • Not reach developmental milestones parallel to their age group
  • Have lower than average life expectancy
  • Suffer seizures
  • Face intellectual disabilities
  • Experience a variety of physical problems
  • See limits/impairments with their motor function

Each of these symptoms can involve wide variance in severity or longevity.

A physician or specialist can conduct several tests to identify medical problems associated with microcephaly. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition, but symptoms may be managed during the child’s life. Programs do exist, though, to assist families with a child who lives with microcephaly – don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 462-5772 or fill out our simple contact form for more information on these programs to assist children with microcephaly.

Since microcephaly can be caused by a birth injury, caution should be taken during a complicated birth to rectify the situation to prevent microcephaly from occurring in the first place. When a medical professional fails to do so, children may be eligible for Lifetime Benefits that pay for the ongoing care, therapy, housing, assistance and more that children with microcephaly need. For more information on a Medical Legal Review that will examine the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, deliver and post-birth care that resulted in a child diagnosed with microcephaly, contact us today.

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